Sask small business optimism falls again in June; remains lowest in Canada

Regina, June 28, 2018 - Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan fell again in June for the third consecutive month to an index of 44.8, down from 49.0 in May and remains well below the national average index of 62.2.

“Saskatchewan's small business optimism dropped again in June to a record low index of 44.8 and remains the lowest among all provinces,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Prairie & Agri-business. “In fact, the index is now 20 points below the range of index levels (65-70) normally associated when the economy is growing at its potential. Employment plans are also weak with only 12 per cent of owners looking to hire and 14 per cent planning lay-offs.”

“There is little doubt some of the major contributing factors are related to the ongoing concerns surrounding the federal tax changes, the threat of a federally-imposed carbon tax, and the ongoing uncertainty with the NAFTA renegotiation, not to mention the many areas in the province that remain dry,” added Braun-Pollon. “While pleased the Saskatchewan government continues to aggressively oppose a costly carbon tax, we are urging the province to stand up again for small businesses and NOT follow the federal government in limiting businesses’ access to the small business deduction based on passive investment revenue.”

Nationally, small business confidence levels remained steady in June, following a sharp increase in May. The index came in at 62.2 this month--off only 0.3 points from May.

“The current confidence levels we’re observing speak of a modestly growing economy, but one that is still under its potential,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s Vice President and Chief Economist. “Four provinces were at the higher end of the confidence scale, four were at the lower end and two held steady.”

Provincial results: PEI and Quebec continue to lead

Prince Edward Island and Quebec remained the most optimistic provinces at 74.5 and 72.8 index points respectively, with Quebec gaining 4.7 points over last month’s results. Alberta experienced a healthy gain of 3.3 points to 56.5. Saskatchewan (44.8), Ontario (62.4) and New Brunswick (59.0) experienced confidence drops this month. Confidence in Newfoundland & Labrador (50.0), British Columbia (58.8) and Manitoba (59.3) remained steady but below the national average.

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for June:

  • 28% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (47% nationally); 22% say it is bad (10% nationally).
  • 14% plan to decrease employment in the next 3-4 months (9% nationally) and only 12% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment (19% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (49%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (26%), and management skills, time constraints (23%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (69%), insurance costs (53%) and wage costs (48%).

Read the June Business Barometer

Measured on a scale of 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. June 2018 findings are based on 798 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through June 18. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.5 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Marilyn Braun-Pollon, Vice-President Prairie & Agri-business on the provincial results please call (306) 757-0000, 1-888-234-2232 or email You may follow CFIB Saskatchewan on Twitter @cfibsk.

To arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, CFIB’s Chief Economist on the national results, please call (647) 464-2814 or email

Business Barometer® is a monthly publication of the CFIB and is a registered trademark.

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (5,250 in Saskatchewan) across every sector and region.